Khabib Nurmagomedov declared ‘mission accomplished’ after landing back in Russia following his elevation to pound-for-pound No 1 after UFC 254.
The 29-0 lightweight king retired immediately after his win over Justin Gaethje in emotional scenes on Fight Island and spoke about his decision having touched down in his homeland.
He said: ‘Today I was ranked the No 1 pound-for-pound fighter so the mission is accomplished. What else is there to do? Make money? I’ll always be able to do that.
Khabib Nurmagomedov touched down in Russia after his UFC 254 victory on Saturday
The lightweight champion insisted he is retired having accomplished his mission in MMA
‘Everyone reacts differently. Of course Dana [White] wants me to continue fighting and generate revenue.
‘I can make money myself. I’m at the peak of my career but I made this decision and I think this is the best time for me to make it.
‘Not everyone can retire at their peak but I know that in a year, two or five, I’d have to face that decision again. I did enough in the sport to be considered the best.’
Khabib decided to call it a day having promised his mother this would be his final fight without his late father Abdulmanap there to guide him.
Khabib moved to 29-0 by beating Justin Gaethje with one of his greatest performances
He was visibly overcome and in tears after Saturday night’s second round submission win over Gaethje.
The combination of grief, relief and ecstasy made for a potent cocktail of emotions and Khabib’s coach Javier Mendez earlier cast doubt on whether his fighter would remain in retirement.
Mendez told the Sun: ‘Look at his emotions, he was in tears, he was all over the place. I know he said what he said, but he was extremely emotional and time will tell if it will stick or not.
‘I don’t know, but when I was present he’d always say, “Why do you guys talk about retirement, I’m only 32.
‘So how is it that all of a sudden you’re retired? What else can explain why? His emotions.’
At the moment however, the Dagestani seems set in his decision and posted his own tribute to Mendez on Instagram on Wednesday.
Alongside a snap of the American Kickboxing Academy boss with the Papakha hat on and belt around his waist, Khabib wrote: ‘Our connection will forever be fixed in my heart coach, you was a great inspiration for me always, since the first days I came to AKA. Love you coach.’
With the news of Khabib’s retirement in his prime at the age of 32 sending shockwaves through MMA, plenty of other opportunities will no doubt pour in.
The 32-year-old has already had an offer to box in a charity bout from the Russian Federation
Russian Boxing Federation chief Umar Kremlev said: ‘I respect Khabib, he’s a great sportsman, I’ll always support him,” Kremlev said.
‘As for his decision (to retire), he left beautifully, undefeated.
‘A charity or exhibition boxing bout? If he wants that, we’re ready to organize it.’
It will be fascinating to see which direction he chooses to go if indeed his fighting days are over for good.
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